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The sapphirine-bearing rocks in contact with the Lherz peridotite body: new mineralogical data, age and attempt at interpretation

Abstract : Sapphirine-bearing rocks are described in the Aulus Basin (Ariège, France) in a contact zone between the Lherz peridotitic body and Mesozoic metasediments which underwent the Pyrenean Cretaceous high-temperature, low-pressure metamorphic event (Monchoux, 1970, 1972a, 1972b). Sapphirine crystals occur in layered clastic deposits characterized by an uncommon suite of Al-Mg-rich minerals. A detailed petrographic study of sixteen samples representative of the diversity of the Lherz sapphirine-bearing rocks is presented. These rocks include breccias and microbreccias with various compositions. Some samples are composed of polymineralic clasts and isolated minerals that derive from regionally well-known protoliths such as ultramafic rocks, meta-ophites, “micaceous hornfels”, and very scarce Paleozoic basement rocks. Nevertheless, a large portion of the sapphirine-bearing clastic suite is composed of mono- and polymineralic debris that derive from unknown protolith(s). We define a "sapphirine-bearing mineral suite” (SBMS) composed of monomineralic debris including: sapphirine + enstatite + aluminous spinel + Mg-amphiboles + Ca-amphiboles + kornerupine + accessory minerals (apatite, diopside, rutile, serpentine, smectite, tourmaline, vermiculite and a white mica). We highlight the dominance of metamorphic Keuper clastic materials in the studied rocks and the presence of inclusions of anhydrite and F-, Cl-, Sr-rich apatite in minerals of the Al-Mg-rich suite. The brecciated texture and the presence of unequivocal sedimentary features suggest that the sapphirine-bearing rocks were mechanically disaggregated and then experienced winnowing in underwater conditions with poor mixing between the different sources. We measured U-Pb rutile age data in order to provide constraints on the age of (one of) the protolith(s) of those clastic deposits. The obtained age (98.6 + 1.2 Ma) is interpreted as the age of metamorphism of this protolith of the SBMS. Previous works interpreted the Lherz sapphirine-bearing rocks as crustal protoliths modified at depth along the contact with the ultramafic rocks of the Lherz body during their ascent towards shallower depths. These new data imply: (i) an Upper Triassic to Lower Jurassic origin for the main protolith of the sapphirine-bearing rocks; (ii) the metamorphism of this protolith along an active hot crust–mantle detachment during Cenomanian times with the involvement of metasomatic, brine-type fluids; and (iii) its brecciation during the exhumation of the material due to the evolution of the detachment, followed by subsequent sedimentary reworking of the metamorphic material.
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Jessica Uzel, Yves Lagabrielle, Serge Fourcade, C. Chopin, P. Monjoux, et al.. The sapphirine-bearing rocks in contact with the Lherz peridotite body: new mineralogical data, age and attempt at interpretation. BSGF earth sciences bulletin, Société géologique de France, 2020, 191, pp.5. ⟨10.1051/bsgf/2019015⟩. ⟨insu-02390651⟩

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